Fred Applin’s first season as the women’s basketball coach at Charleston Southern started off with very bad luck and never got much better.
LAST SEASON: 8-20, 3-15 (10th)
COACH: Fred Applin, 8-20 in 1 season, 24-47 overall
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G DJ Fowler, 5-8, sr. (10.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg); G Erin Bratcher, 5-9, sr. (10.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg); F Anicia Dotson, 5-11, sr. (5.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
NOTABLE: Applin has nine newcomers on this year’s roster and only three seniors … Lady Bucs have more size than ever with six players that are 6-feet or taller…Bratcher led team with 77 made 3-pointers last season.
Nov. 8 at South Carolina 7 p.m.
Nov. 12 Southern Wesleyan 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 at Savannah State 7 p.m.
Nov. 20 Wofford 7 p.m.
Nov. 26 Converse 5 p.m.
Dec. 2 UNC Asheville 7 p.m.
Dec. 14 at North Carolina 1 p.m.
Dec. 16 at Western Carolina 7 p.m.
Dec. 19 Savannah State 7 p.m.
Dec. 28 at Radford 2 p.m.
Dec. 30 at Winthrop 2 p.m.
Jan. 2 Liberty 7 p.m.
Jan. 4 Longwood 2 p.m.
Jan. 9 at Campbell 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 at High Point 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 Trinity Baptist 7 p.m.
Jan. 18 Coastal Carolina 2 p.m.
Jan. 21 Presbyterian 7 p.m.
Jan. 23 Gardner-Webb 7 p.m.
Jan. 26 at UNC Asheville 2 p.m.
Jan. 30 Winthrop 7 p.m.
Feb. 1 Radford 2 p.m.
Feb. 6 at Longwood 7 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Liberty 2 p.m.
Feb. 13 High Point 7 p.m.
Feb. 15 Campbell 2 p.m.
Feb. 20 at Coastal Carolina 7 p.m.
Feb. 27 at Presbyterian 7 p.m.
Mar. 1 at Gardner-Webb 3 p.m.
Two games into last season, the Lady Bucs lost their top player, Rachelle Coward, to a season-ending injury. Coward, one of the best offensive players in the Big South Conference, had scored 45 points in CSU’s first two games. Without Coward, Charleston Southern limped to an 8-20 season, winning three of 18 games in the conference. CSU averaged only 60.8 points per game.
“I would have liked to have coached Rachelle for more than two games, and I feel sure we would have won more than eight games had she not been injured,” said Applin. “But, I thought we competed pretty well with the players we had. I think with me being a new coach, when we lost Rae, maybe some doubt crept in. I thought the players accepted me and they played hard for me, but they lost their leader so early. We just never overcame it.”
Saddled with a lack of experience and depth, Applin was forced to lean heavily on junior guards DJ Fowler and Erin Bratcher. Both players played more than 37 minutes per game. The coach aggressively set out during the offseason to add some depth and has seven new players on the roster.
“Simply put, we cannot have Erin and DJ, or any other player, on the floor for nearly 38 minutes in every game,” said Applin. “They cannot be as effective at the end of games as they could be if they had some rest during the game. The first step is having bodies, so we added a lot of new players, and it is our expectation that all of these players help us in some way.”
Bratcher and Fowler are the top returning players to this year’s team. Fowler averaged 10.6 points per game, while Bratcher scored 10.4 points per game. Bratcher is the team’s top perimeter threat, connecting on a team-high 77 3-pointers last season. CSU averaged seven 3s per game last season, best in the Big South.
Junior Kirklin Kirkpatrick missed all of last season with an injury and will add depth to the backcourt. Freshmen Nayla Long and Marley Brown, and redshirt freshman Alyssa Mann, will work in the backcourt rotation and contribute early.
“I love guards that can score, and I think we are pretty solid in the backcourt with that group,” said Applin. “At the same time, we saw that we need more of an inside game. We need more rebounding and we need the ability to throw it inside and get some points.”
To that end, Applin and his staff sought out size in the post. This year’s roster has six players listed at 6-feet tall or better, including two at 6-3.
Junior college transfer Natasha Lebedeva of Russia is 6-2. Sophomore returner Monique Maximilien is 6-3, as is freshman post Rochelle Brophy. Senior 5-11 forward Anicia Dotson (5.1 ppg) is a returning veteran up front and will be an improved offensive threat.
Charleston Southern opens the season Friday night at South Carolina.